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In 2009, Chancellor Sayde Ladov formed the Philadelphia Bar Association's Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force ("Task Force"). The mission of the Task Force is to investigate and consider all aspects of an effective system of civil Gideon in Philadelphia, including the development of concrete and practicable proposals to advance the implementation of a civil right to counsel in those areas of adversarial civil proceedings where basic human needs are at stake. This web site was developed in 2010 to further the mission of the Task Force to educate the legal and public community about the need for civil Gideon in these critical matters. In 2014, the Task Force changed its name to the "Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force" to reflect its strategic goals to promote the right to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs in the long term and address the growing civil justice gap and access to justice issues in the short term.
In the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), the Supreme Court decided that indigent defendants have a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney, at no charge, in state criminal cases. The term "civil Gideon" refers to a growing national movement that has developed to explore strategies to provide legal counsel, as a matter of right and at public expense, to low-income persons in civil legal proceedings where basic human needs are at stake, such as those involving shelter, sustenance, safety, health or child custody.
The National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC) maintains a web site that provides updated information about the civil Gideon movement as well as articles, resources and other information about current litigation, legislation and related efforts and strategies nationwide to expand the right to civil counsel. The NCCRC web site also contains a number of insightful studies and reports from across the nation that address the urgent need for legal representation for low-income individuals in cases where basic human needs are at stake and illustrate the economic and societal benefits and costs savings achieved by providing such services. The NCCRC was formed in 2003 to facilitate collaboration among advocates nationwide and provide training, research and other support to legal services programs, bar associations, law schools, private law firms, and others in their local efforts to establish a civil right to counsel.